Federal offices must offer employees administrative leave to get themselves or a family member vaccinated against COVID-19, under White House guidance issued Aug. 25.

Agencies must provide up to four hours of administrative leave for each vaccine dose an employee or a family member needs, including the third booster shot now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for immunocompromised people and planned to be available to everyone else eight months after receiving a second dose of either Moderna or Pfizer, according to the guidance from the White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.

The federal offices should only grant as much administrative leave as needed to get the shot, and the guidance encourages managers to consider granting employees additional time if they live in remote areas and must travel long distances to get vaccinated. Teleworking employees will have to get advance approval to use such leave.

Agencies may also grant up to two days of administrative leave for employees who need to recover from vaccination reactions.

Feds could up to this point use emergency paid leave through Sept. 30 to get a vaccine or recover from side effects, among other COVID-related reasons.

The American Rescue Plan economic aid legislation granted that leave, administered via a $570 million fund to reimburse agencies for the time when an employee wasn’t working. Once the fund is depleted, feds can no longer apply to use it.

Administrative leave, on the other hand, is a general catch-all for any excused absence an employee has from work that does not fall under time off for vacation, sickness or parental leave. Other allowed categories include time off to vote, for the death of a president and to return to civilian employment after active-duty military deployment.

Expanding administrative leave to allow for COVID-19 vaccination time means that employees have a guaranteed means of being excused from work to receive or recover from an immunization.

Employees who need more than two days to recover from vaccine side effects can apply for emergency paid leave, if available, as allowed by the American Rescue Plan, or use their regular sick leave.

President Joe Biden recently increased pressure on federal employees to get their COVID-19 vaccine by placing in-office restrictions on those workers who refuse to get vaccinated or prove they received a vaccine.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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